New study reveals true scale of cruelty of chicken farming

A new study has revealed the horrific cruelty of chicken farming for meat in New Zealand. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) report shows that two thirds of birds have leg problems, in some cases meaning they are unable to walk at all. Perhaps most shocking of all, the report states that more than 2 million chickens die every year from disease and health problems.  

MPI, the Government department conflictingly charged with animal welfare and promotion of the economic growth of New Zealand farming, released the report just days after submissions closed on the review of the Animal Welfare Act.


The study of 20 farms details:

  • 2/3 of chickens are unable to walk properly. Birds were found to have such bad leg problems that their ability to move around was affected, in some case they were unable to walk at all.
  • Over 2 million birds die each year before they even reached slaughter weight (6 weeks old). Of those, 65 percent were birds found dead, 9.2 percent were killed due to leg problems and 25.9 percent were killed for other problems.
  • Problems described include joint infections, twisted legs and femoral head necrosis.
  • None of the farms surveyed provided the chickens with any behavioural enrichment devices.
  • 100% of farms routinely use antibiotics in chickens feed.

Campaign director Eliot Pryor says, "This study provides proof that many consumers will be eating severely crippled chicken in their next meal. It is truly appalling that this cruelty is allowed to continue. SAFE is calling on the Government to use the review of the Animal Welfare Act to introduce meaningful change for the millions of suffering meat chickens."

SAFE believes that once people become aware that chickens raised for meat suffer just as much as battery hens and pigs in crates many will choose to no longer support this cruelty. "A consumer boycott is the only effective way to end this suffering," says Mr Pryor.

Download the report